July 26, 2023, Kamloops, British Columbia

Austin VE7QH invited Mike VE7KPZ out for a hiking trip to a SOTA summit that had been eluding him for years. The summit was Mount Wheeler, no not the big one in Glacier National Park but the smaller one (VE7/TN-021) in Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area (POTA park VE-3228) on the outskirts of Kamloops, British Columbia.

From the parking area at Lac du Bois the 6ish km hike would require 400m of elevation gain. Travel would begin in grasslands and then move to forest. The summit activation zone itself, however, was rather open, with some nice tree options on the edges to support Austin's wire antenna.

Some mosquitos were encountered in the forest section and those mosquitos may have contributed to good time being made with the team arriving in the SOTA activation zone (confirmed via the SOTA Goat app) almost 3 hours ahead of expected.

Fortunately a couple bars of 3G cell service could be found at the peak so SOTA alert postings and spots were updated for both SOTA and POTA programmes.

Austin chose a 20m-long modified K6ARK EFHW that he was able to get high over a tree branch first throw. He was on the air within minutes with his trusty Yaesu FT-818nd running QRP CW. Austin had the 4 QSOs required to activate the summit in under 10 minutes, and the park officially activated (for his 21st time) by around the 20 minute mark. Austin's setup and operation were very impressive and he even got another QSO QRP SSB on 20m with a great SOTA chaser F4WBN from France.

Mike was a little slower to setup his SOTAbeams 6m pole and much-shorter EFHW into which he ran 50 watts SSB via his IC-705/PA500 combo. Starting after Austin completed his activations it took Mike a good 40 minutes to get his rerquired QSOs done. It was, however, nice to get two summit to summit QSOs and a park to park QSO with a DXpedition station VB2M in Quebec. Big thanks to Keith KR7RK, Mike's first SOTA contact ever and also first summit to summit.

After the successful activations the gear was quickly torn down and the team returned to the cars reverse route.

It was a really nice way to spend a day,

Ps: big thanks to Kamloops Trails for the recce.

Pps: check out some pics from the event:

Start of the hike parking lot.

Officially entering the park.

Through grasslands. That's our peak in the center.

Moving to forested trail.

Austin at Wheeler Lake.

The climb intensifies.

Made it to the summit activation zone!

Austin's EFHW.

Austin straight to work QRP CW.

Austin's gear selected for this endeavour.

Mike at work 50 watts SSB.

Mike makes his first ever SOTA QSO, a summit to summit.

Return to the cars.